By Sue Paist and Christopher Luley
What IS an Arboretum and Why You Need to Know
An arboretum is a botanical garden specializing in trees or woody plants. Arboreta across the globe conduct scientific research and conservation, engage in public outreach and education, and manage beautiful and diverse tree collections. Arborists have the connections and expertise to greatly impact the establishment and professionalism of arboreta. To advance the planting and conservation of trees, arborists can collaborate with existing or potential arboreta or even start one of their own.
Arboreta can be found in all shapes and sizes and can be traditional and nontraditional. A traditional arboretum is one whose primary purpose is to be a tree-focused public botanic garden. Examples of traditional arboreta include The Morris Arboretum, U.S.A.; Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, UK (Figure 1); and Arboretum Wespelaar, Belgium. Non-traditional arboreta are part of What’s in an Arboretum? By Sue Paist and Christopher Luley organizations or institutions whose primary purpose is other than existing solely as an arboretum, but their site includes an arboretum. Examples of nontraditional arboreta include municipal tree collections or parks, school campuses (Figure 2), cemeteries, zoos (Figure 3), and historical properties or estates.